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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Computerized Audio

Introduction

The "audiophile" audio world is heading towards computerized audio.

Though there'll be high hurdles to cross to evolve into the computerized audio world for the
wider "audiophile" community. 


To accomplish and maintain an audiophile setup using a PC, a network and an audio interface must be considered a pretty complex undertaking.

You need to have a pretty good understanding of computers and networks and associated audio devices and of course the software driving all that.

You need to continuously follow up on these. The entire setup  needs to be thoroughly planed,  selected and integrated to meet the high demands of the typically very demanding audiophile person.

Transferring your music data to the PC and maintaining your database
must be considered a major challenge too.

It is getting better nowadays, with automatic grabbing boxes and professional grabbing
services. Still getting a consistent database in place means a lot of extra manual extra work.


All this, just to replace a single CD player? Does all this effort makes sense?  

Honestly, I am really not sure.  




Why is the audiophile community that late?

The consumer audio world and the professional audio world is using the PC for a long time - much longer than the  "audiophile" community and industry.

MP3s are easier to manage on any PC and sound quality is not an issue.
DAWs ( Digital Audio Workstations) as used in the Pro-arena are complex professionally engineered work horses usually maintained by professional IT specialists.

Fact is there were no audiophile audio products supplied by the traditional audio manufacturers which could be used in conjunction with a PC for a long long time .


My guess  is that the audiophile-industry didn't have a strong ambition to start fighting the pro-audio industry or high-end soundcard industry. ( Perhaps they even lacked the competence). For sure they didn't want to cannibalize their "audiophile" price levels. 


In recent times it became obvious that the audiophile audio industry found a way out of this dilemma.

They finally decided on what horse to bet:

 "Streaming"

A streaming client is nothing else then a computer with an integrated soundcard/DAC and a good power-supply.

There are devices that cost as much as 15k€ and are nothing else then an integrated ethernet streaming computer and a DAC.

You'd still have to grab your collection and to manage a data server and network by yourself.

If you ask me, I don't think it is a wise decision to run after these proprietary solutions.
On the first glance they look Plug'n Play...

On the 2nd glance you'll realize there's more to it.



The path into that jungle ...

I think there is no need to spent a fortune  for a real nice high quality audio solution
anymore.

The market must be considered a jungle though.

It is IMO getting worse and more confusing every day. Even for myself.
New products and manufacturers are popping up like mushrooms.

For now I 've taken my decision:

With a Squeezebox Touch as  transport and an  good external DAC I'll get along quite well.

In the beginning you wouldn't even need a separate computer, since you can run the
Touch as a standalone device.

The Squeezebox Touch is already down to 220$ in US and 200€ in Europe on some
occasions. This will probably the most easiest, most flexible and most affordable way
to enter the computerized audio scene, without facing the risk burning thousands of $.

I can tell you The Touch sounds better than its price suggests.The real nice thing about this device  is the software and database behind that is driving the system.
It'll run on every operating system. Beside that you can use all kind of handheld
3rd party  devices to remote-control it. I use an iPad and iPhone. Android devices working
too.

There's IMO no need for more. You'll stay extremely flexible without compromising
good sound quality and your budget. 


Checkout my Touch Toolbox. The real fun starts with a pimped Touch.

Enjoy



1 comment:

  1. Thank you! You save me (and no doubt countless others) a lot of time! Cheers!

    ReplyDelete